Fibre-to-the-node connections have dragged down average NBN speeds, but the results are not all bad the first major testing by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has shown.
Average download speeds were recorded as between 80 and 90 per cent of the advertised plan speeds on the four largest providers iiNet, Optus, Telstra and TPG.
Even during peak times – between 7pm and 11pm – speeds dropped only marginally.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims described the results as “better than expected”.
“The majority of internet service providers are now delivering very close to their maximum plan speeds,” he said.
The report, however, also found five per cent of services operated at below half of their advertised speed.
The results are from 400 users and 61,000 individual speed tests in February and March on 25 megabits per second (Mps), 50Mps and 100Mbps plans.
The $6.5 million testing program will cover 2000 services later this year, before expanding to 4000 Australian homes by 2021.
The ACCC noted that fibre-to-the-node connections – those that use the longer stretches of the existing copper network to connect homes to the NBN – dragged down speeds.
Telecommunications companies have recently been forced to provide refunds to customers who have signed up to plans promising speeds faster than their physical connections could access, many of them with fibre-to-the-node technology.
“We know that there are customers who are not getting the speeds that are being advertised,” Mr Sims said.
We hope that the transparency and the regularity of our broadband speed reports will encourage all retailers to ensure their customers are getting what they are paying for.”
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield attributed the results to new pricing that had made it cheaper for providers to purchase NBN capacity and provide faster plans.
“This is all thanks to NBN’s new discounted pricing with more network capacity, which is only possible because the Coalition’s NBN is being rolled out sooner and more affordably,” he said.
Labor’s communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland described the results as “encouraging” but accused the Government of delaying the testing.
“The regulator proposed the broadband monitoring to the Turnbull Government in February 2016, yet Minister Fifield inexplicably sat on the proposal for 14 months,” she said.